If you’re someone that makes curry pastes and the like in bulk, there’s a good chance you’re also looking to use them in as many different ways as possible. I make and squirrel away huge batches of pesto, pasta sauces, curry pastes etc. and to be honest, as much as I revel in the idea of batch-prepping and stuffing my freezer to the rafters, there’s only so much we can get through as a family of two. And eating the same thing everyday is not an option for me, thank you. To get around this very demanding first world problem, I devise plans to use them up as creatively as possible. This is one such. (Thai curry fried rice is another.)
For quick weeknight meals, I rely on recipes where one core ingredient does all the hard work with minimal effort on my part. Here, that’s Thai curry paste. Chicken pieces—drumsticks and thighs—are slathered with the paste and roasted in the oven. (If you want to go the breast route, by all means do.) Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, you shred them into bite-sized pieces with your hands and toss them up with the chopped veg, herbs, and nuts. The dressing is poured over at the very last minute just before serving – no soggy salads on my watch.
Although the curry paste does most of the heavy-lifting in terms of flavour, I still like to jam more into it with the dressing. It’s pretty straightforward – there’s acid from the lime juice, sweetness from a bit of sugar, that very desirable funk from fish sauce, and creaminess from a dollop of peanut butter. I also add a bit of Sriracha for heat, but that’s totally optional.
All components can be made in advance of course: Chop the veg, herbs, and nuts in a bigger batch. Throw in a whole chicken to roast or a few more pieces of the drumsticks and thighs. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. Divide the veg and chicken between containers and refrigerate. As far as meal-prep goes, it doesn’t quite get better than this.
THAI CHICKEN SALAD
- 2 chicken drumsticks and 2 thighs (or 4 drumsticks/thighs)
- 2 tbsp Thai curry paste
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 ½ cups cabbage, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 green mango, grated
- ½ a stick of celery, finely chopped (optional)
- ¼ cup coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp chilli paste (Sriracha or other)
- A few drops of toasted sesame oil (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Mix the Thai curry paste with the oil. Slather the chicken pieces with it on all sides. Roast for 20-25 mins until golden and cooked through. Rest until cool enough to handle, then shred the meat with your fingers. Set aside.
- Make the dressing: mix/shake all the ingredients listed under ‘dressing’ in a bowl/jar. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Toss the vegetables, herbs, peanuts, sesame seeds, and chicken together in a bowl. Dress the salad just before serving.